On Friday, a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more, apparently because he believed Muslim “invaders” were committing “white genocide.” (Or so seems to have explained in a nationalist manifesto.) New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern immediately denounced the terrorist responsible for the attacks, clarifying that Muslims “are us,” while “the person who has perpetuated this violence … is not.” That seems like it should be the only acceptable response to such a targeted assault with such a clear motive, but in his remarks, Australian Senator Fraser Anning went a different direction: blame the victims.
After a cursory disavowal of violence in all its forms, Anning wrote in a statement: “As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shooting lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all cliched nonsense.” He continued:
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.
Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators. World-wide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale.
The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth-century despot masquerading as a religious leader, which justifies endless war against anyone who opposes it and calls for the murder of unbelievers and apostates.
The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.
Anning went on to cite the Bible, seeming to suggest that Friday’s victims maybe had this coming. According to the Washington Post, this kind of rhetoric tracks with Anning’s xenophobic politics: For example, he once appeared to borrow Nazi language in asking for a “final solution” to what he deemed “the immigration problem.” Then there was that time he attended a fascist rally, and that time he refused to stop distinguishing between “European” and “non-European” immigration, which led his own party to disown him.
Anning’s most recent extremist outburst was so egregious that it provoked rebuke from Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, an evangelical Christian whose harsh immigration policies have also earned him criticism.
“The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, rightwing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting,” Morrison said. “Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian parliament.”